3-and-Out: El-Bashir previews Redskins-Vikings
Our weekly look at the Redskins' matchup from a fantasy football perspective.
Don't think we need to tell fantasy players that Pierre Garcon AND Jordan Reed are must starts anymore, right? Obviously Garcon further cemented his case as weekly top-15 option with a career high yardage day against the woeful Chargers pass defense, which 28th against fantasy wide receivers entering Week 10. The Vikings rank 27th and have allowed at least WR touchdown in seven straight games. It's been a mixed bag for opposing WR1 types though Jordy Nelson caught two scores in Week 8 and Steve Smith and Josh Gordon found the end zone. Anyway, on paper Garcon should have no complaints about the Redskins passing game this week.
In terms of covering the TE, Minnesota brutalized such scenarios early in the season, allowing six scores in three games. Since then, just one TD in five games, but it came last week against the Cowboys as Jason Witten went for 8-102-1. Get Reed in your lineups.
As for Leonard Hankerson, this from Rotoworld's Evan Silva: "You know the drill with Hankerson by now. He is capable of making big plays off play action. He plays big and could catch a red-zone score in any given week. Ultimately, however, Hankerson is a weak fantasy investment because he's not a big part of Washington's passing offense at Z receiver. He has one touchdown over his last seven games and has cleared 60 yards in 1-of-8 weeks this season. Hankerson is a boom-or-bust WR3." What he said. Own Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson at your own risk.
*I wrote the following about Alfred Morris this week: "Owners want to scream a blue streak about Darrell Young's three touchdowns (especially after Roy Helu turned a similar trick two weeks prior), but instead of decrying Shanahanigans, focus on the positives: Morris had 25 carries (for 121 yards); the first time he's topped 19 in any game this season. The second-year RB also scored for third time in four games. Now Morris gets the Vikings, Eagles and Giants over the next four weeks. Yeah, lots of positives. Even more if Mike Shanahan stops giving the ball to fullbacks around the goal line! And for the record, Young is not a fantasy option."
As for the Vikings specifically, Minnesota ranks last against fantasy running backs this season. Entering last week, the Vikings had allowed six touchdowns in four games. Against Dallas in Week 9, the Vikings consistently moved a safety into the box, leading to the Cowboys attempting a franchise-low nine carries. Don't expect the Redskins to fall into that trap.
All Morris owners should own Helu as backup insurance wherever possible - and get on that now with the fantasy trading deadline upon us. Otherwise, hard to use Helu as anything more than a bye week/injury replacement if needed.
Last week wasn't loaded with fantasy goodness, but the NFL side of things for Robert Griffin III. After the Redskins inexplicably left him in the pocket in Week 8 against Denver, which led to minimal rush yards and many sitting-duck hits. Washington reverted to its rollout plays. That included successful pitch-plays to Reed and Moss. Griffin later went airborne on a 10-yard scramble on 3rd-and-9, but ultimately never found the end zone as a runner or passer. The hope is that a similar on-the-move game plan exists against the Vikings and that, for fantasy purposes, all scores are not rushes by someone else. Minnesota consistently allows scores to quarterbacks this season, ranking 29th against the fantasy position. On the season, the Vikings have surrendered 17 TDP with at least two in six of eight games.
The defense and kicker
Minnesota offensive line ranks 11th in the NFL with 20 sacks on the season. Christian Ponder doesn't throw for many yards, but he doesn't throw many interceptions either. After tossing three in the season opener, Ponder has three over his next four games. Bottom line, we know the Redskins are not an ideal play in terms of conventional stats - especially yardage - but the playmaking unit certainly has a knack for finding the end zone. ...Kai Forbath missed two of three field goal attempts last week. More importantly, he's taken just four in three weeks. Minnesota has allowed eight attempts in that stretch. That's a sign Washington could stall a touch more in the Red Zone, but don't risk it. Look for a kicker elsewhere.
On the other side...
Give Christian Ponder this: he sure can run. Last week the Vikings QB found the end zone for the fourth time this season as a ball carrier, all coming on his last three games. As a passer, Ponder has just three touchdown passes on the season and hasn't topped 236 yards in the air. However, he's rushed for at least 29 yards in each of his last three games. Yet despite just one TDP in that span, Ponder has produced 23, 14 and 19 fantasy points in those games. Then again, since Week 1, the Redskins defense has not allowed a rushing score by a QB. Also the Vikings are without injured TE Kyle Rudolph, though wide outs Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Cordarrelle Patterson all have a big-play ability - if their QB can get them the ball. Still, for those in a true bind, Ponder's rushing should do enough especially at home to help. Better that than Adrian Peterson running wild against Washington's 28th fantasy rush defense.
In addition to CSNwashington duties covering the Wizards, Hoyas and the college basketball scene, Ben writes about and ranks fantasy football players for FFToolbox.com, rated the most accurate site for the 2012 season.